Sofia, October 8, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgaria received high marks from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for its fiscal policy and accelerated economic growth in the past year and a half, the Finance Ministry said on October 8.
The ministry said that the positive assessment had become clear during meeting Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov had with the IMF and the World Bank, part of the annual meeting of the two institutions, taking place in the US capital Washington DC.
Together with the Governor of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) Dimitar Radev, Deputy Minister of Finance Marinela Petrova and BNB Deputy Governor Dimitar Kostov, Goranov participated in the opening plenary session of the annual meeting of World Bank and IMF, as well as in a series of workshops at the headquarters of the two institutions.
The Bulgarian Finance Ministry statement quoted World Bank vice-president Cyril Muller as telling Goranov: “I am very impressed with the progress of your country compared to its condition two years ago.
“Bulgaria is among the countries with the best macroeconomic performance in Eastern Europe. The increasing economic growth, declining unemployment and improving budgetary position are impressive,” the statement quoted Muller as saying.
Muller said that World Bank experts are satisfied with the successfully conducted assessment of the assets of commercial banks in Bulgaria and subsequent stress tests.
He and Goranov discussed the state of public finances, reducing of the deficit and the Bulgarian government expectations for the development the country’s economy over the next three years.
Goranov and Muller also discussed projects in the field of energy efficiency, on which Bulgaria and The World Bank can collaborate successfully, the statement said.
At a meeting with IMF deputy managing director Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Goranov gave a briefing on the measures by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government against the grey economy, smuggling and corruption, that had led to a significant increase in budget revenue in the past year and a half, the Finance Ministry statement said.
The statement quoted Furusawa as saying “we hear much good news from Bulgaria lately”.
Increased revenue collection and decreasing deficit “encourage our expectations of achieving a balanced budget within two years,” Furusawa said.
According to the statement, Furusawa congratulated Goranov and Radev on the successfully conducted assessment of bank assets in Bulgaria and the stress tests, emphasising that the Bulgarian financial system is stable, which ensures sustainable growth in this and subsequent years.
Goranov also met the director of the European Department of the IMF Poul Thomsen. They discussed the priorities of the Bulgarian government getting attention in expenditure.
“Education is our main priority. In the next budget, we will allocate additional 223 million leva for educsation. This is the main focus in our fight against the demographic crisis, the lack of qualified personnel for the economy and the risks of slowing growth in the future,” Goranov said.
He told Thomsen about the measures that Borissov’s government was taking to improve the pension and health care system in Bulgaria.
At a meeting with the executive director of the board at the World Bank Group Frank Heemskerk, Goranov presented the factors for economic growth in Bulgaria and the Ministry of Finance’s plans for the state budget in 2017.
He was encouraged by Heemskerk that the World Bank will continue to support Bulgaria’s efforts towards a balanced budget and improving the efficiency of public spending, the Finance Ministry statement said.